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At every turn

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At every turn

Drivers will see Missouri Department of Transportation crews at it again, working on Polk County’s next set of J-turns in the coming weeks.

According to a MoDOT news release, there will be nighttime lane and shoulder closings at Mo. 13 and Mo. 215, in Brighton south of Bolivar, starting Sunday, June 16.

While close in proximity, two intersections — Mo. 215 West/Spur 215 North and Mo. 215 East/545th Road — will be converted to J-turns as part of a project to make safety improvements at 10 intersections along the Mo. 13 corridor between Clinton and Springfield.

MODOT jturn conflicts.jpg

This is a diagram of traffic flow and conflict points for traditional intersections and the original J-turn intersection. Mo. 13 at Rt. U/Y has been approved for a modified J-turn where northbound traffic will be able to make a left-hand turn onto Rt. Y.

They will be Polk County’s third and fourth J-turns.

“During construction, drivers can expect lane closings with crews and equipment close to traffic,” the release said. “At least one lane of traffic will be open in each direction at all times.”

 The release said side roads will be closed at times.

 “Drivers who travel through the intersections are urged to use extreme caution and slow down in the work zones,” the release said.

The project is set to be completed in mid-November, the release said.

Work on the Mo. 13 corridor project began in February at the Old Highway 13 intersection in Osceola, according to previous coverage.

Four Polk County intersections — Mo. 123 in Humansville, South 565th Road near the Polk/Greene County line and the two Brighton intersections — are part of the project.

The J-turn at the Mo. 123 intersection in Humansville is still under construction. MoDOT’s Angela Eden said crews expect to complete the project by Wednesday, July 4.  

The journey to J-turns

Work to create Polk County’s first modified J-turn at the controversial Mo. 13 and Rt. U/Y intersection was finished in November 2018. It was completed separately from the Mo. 13 corridor project.

MoDOT first proposed J-turns as an option for intersections along Mo. 13 to Polk County residents in a public forum in January 2017.

According to previous BH-FP coverage, 10 Polk County intersections were under consideration for adaptations.

During that meeting, Eden told the BH-FP the area garnering the most concern from MoDOT was the Rt. U/Y intersection south of Bolivar.

She said the intersection had seen the highest number of wrecks, including “some pretty serious crashes,” over the past five years of any location along the Mo. 13 corridor.

While the intersection received various safety upgrades over time, MoDOT announced its plan to convert Rt. U/Y into a modified J-turn in November 2017.

According to the release, “a J-turn is a much safer alternative to traditional intersections on a four-lane high-speed highway.”

“Instead of motorists crossing fast-moving lanes of traffic to get to the opposing lanes, drivers at a J-turn intersection turn right, traveling in the same direction of traffic, merge into the left lane and then make a U-turn in the direction they intend to travel,” the release said.

The release said a University of Missouri study showed J-turn intersections “can reduce injury and fatality crashes by up to 53%.”

To date, there has been one wreck reported at the Mo. 13 and Rt. U/Y J-turn since its completion, Bolivar Police Department’s Lt. Roger Barron said.  

He said BPD worked 20 crashes at the intersection in 2017 and five in 2018.

J-turns are also cost effective, the release said.

Calling them “the best low-cost safety improvements available,” the release said “for the cost of one interchange with ramps and an overpass, as many as 10 intersections can be converted to J-turns.”

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